Cargill expands efforts to reduce supply chain greenhouse gas emissions

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Alfribeiro
© GettyImages/Alfribeiro

Related tags Cargill Sustainability Cattle feed crop production

Cargill looks to feed production, livestock, soil health and shipping improvements as part of its growing effort to reduce company emissions and limit global temperature increases.

The Minnesota-based agri-giant announced Tuesday [December 3] that it is expanding its sustainability efforts and plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from activities in its supply chain by 30% per ton of product by 2030, relative to a 2017 baseline.

Cargill said it has also reinforced its intent to prioritize climate through three recent activities aligned with companies around the globe, including pledging to the CEO climate statement, signing on to the We Are Still In​ coalition to continue supporting the Paris Climate Accord and convening at this week’s UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid.

The commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from its global supply chain by 30% per ton of product by 2030, in combination with a previously announced operational goal to reduce absolute emissions by 10%, has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said Cargill. 

A spokesperson for the agribusiness giant said:

“Our most significant greenhouse gas footprint comes from our supply chain. We need to take collective action across our industries to drive positive change, in order to both feed a growing population and protect the planet. Cargill is in a unique position to help deliver meaningful solutions across our supply chains working together with our farmer and rancher partners. Agriculture is how we’ll come together to address global issues facing our industry — including climate change.”

The reduction in emissions relates to a greenhouse gas emissions baseline for the company that was established in 2017 following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, said Greg Downing, Cargill sustainability lead, climate. “The Protocol defines the internationally accepted best practices for greenhouse gas accounting.

“Without bold and decisive actions by all involved in the production of food, climate change will destabilize the food system,”​ he said. “We have to take action – our customers expect it and our future business depends on it. We are continually evaluating our commitments and programs and pushing ourselves to do more,” ​he said.

The company said it is examining programs, policy solutions and specific supply chain interventions to address its climate impact, including ways to improve soil health and support conservation and regenerative production practices, reduce carbon in shipping, protect forests along with the BeefUp Sustainability initiative​. 

Progress toward the emission reduction goals is set to be assessed at the “programmatic level,”​ Downing said. “For example, through our Beef Up Sustainability effort, we’ll assess emissions reductions along with the number of producers engaged," ​he added.

Sustainability and feed

Heather Tansey, sustainability lead, Cargill Animal Nutrition and Health told us that, in the last three years, Cargill Animal Nutrition has spent more than $150m on research and development capabilities to address nutrition and innovation and support efforts to improve production feed efficiency.

“We’ve also made acquisitions and strategic investments to support sustainability in animal production,” ​she said.

These include investments in companies like Delacon and Cainthus: “Digital tools show promise for helping farmers maximize their sustainability."

“We also entered a partnership with Agriness, the technology leader in Latin American swine production, with a view to helping farmers make proactive decisions to improve their operations,”​ Tansey said.

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